|Area||total: 801,590 sq km |
water: 17,500 sq km
land: 784,090 sq km
|Language||Portuguese (official), indigenous dialects|
|Religion||indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%|
|Time Zone||UTC +2|
Mozambique (Mo�ambique) is a country on the Indian Ocean coast of Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Tanzania to the north and has inland borders with Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Mozambique possesses a very long eastern coastline along the Indian Ocean, a fantastic drawcard for scuba divers, fishermen, sailors and beach lovers.
- Maputo - capital
- Beira - port town and capital of Sofala Province
- Nampula - capital of Nampula Province
- Ponta do Ouro - an excellent dive spot, more easily accessible from South Africa than from Maputo
- Inhambane - A pretty historic town on a bay
- Tofo Beach - A backpacker haven on the coastline east of Inhambane
- Pemba - in Northern Mozambique, a popular holiday destination for Mozambiquans, although yet to be on the regular tourist route for Western visitors.
- Cahora Bassa dam - Hydro electric scheme in the Zambezi river.
Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close for Mozambique with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration by European inhabitants, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development. The ruling party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multi-party elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement with rebel forces ended the fighting in 1992. Heavy flooding in both 1999 and 2000 severely hurt the economy.
Tourism Mozambique (http://www.mozambique.mz/turismo/eindex.htm) includes some information about visiting.
You are most likely to fly in via South Africa, although direct international routes also exist between Mozambique and Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Portugal.
There are several flights daily from Johannesburg to Maputo, operated by South African Airways (SAA) (http://www.flysaa.com) and the Mozambican flag-carrier Linhas Aereas de Mo�ambique (LAM) (http://www.lam.co.mz). These or other airlines (Kenya Airways (http://www.kenya-airways.com), Swazi Express Airways (http://www.swaziexpress.com), TAP Portugal (http://www.tap.pt)) also fly from Durban, Swaziland, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Nairobi and Lisbon. In addition, local carrier Nampula with Cuamba (near the Malawi border). The train carries first, second and third class passengers and is usually packed (when I was in the country there was no second class available). I can only speak of the Nampula-Cuamba itinerary, and if you are travelling the other way you should check for information on the ground in Malawi.
From Nampula, the train leaves early - around 5am-6am, although you should arrive earlier to buy tickets from the booking office at the station. The area is packed with people travelling towards Malawi and so expect queues. Once on board the journey is long, slow but fairly efficient and will get to Cuamba mid-afternoon. From here a Shapa ride will take you to the border (Entre Lagos) as only freight trains use this bit of the line. Be warned that even for a hardened African traveller this stretch of road is very rough and you should expect it to take a fair amount of time.
Once at Entre Lagos, the border formalities are located within the station building (easy to find as the town is a typical small border town), although be warned that this place doesn't see that many people passing through (when I was there in 2003, the official hadn't seen the new computerised visa). From here it is about a 1km walk to the Malawi side of the border. BE WARNED - the Malawi border closes before the Mozambique one, although there is a guesthouse if you get trapped. The easiest way to get from here to Liwonde is by train, we managed to get a lift in the guards van of a goods train quite late in the evening (fairly common practise it seemed).
The highway from Johannesburg to Maputo is very good. From Johannesburg, take the N4 towards Nelspruit. From Nelspruit, continue following the N4 to Komatipoort, the last town on the South African side. Just past Komatipoort is the Komatipoort/Ressano Garcia border post. NB: current car registration papers (or good facsimile thereof) are required to get a car past the border. On the Mozambican side, just follow the N4 (now called EN4) for a further 100km or so to reach Maputo.
You can take the Intercape Mainliner from Johannesburg to Maputo. These busses depart from and to Mozambique on a regular basis, are safe and affordable. You can find Intercape at http://www.intercape.co.za/ or 0861 287 287 (calling from South Africa).
Holders of US passports may acquire a tourist visa on arrival at the airport. As of January 2006 this costs R 170,00 and requires a passport photo. Other nationalities may also be able to do this, but best to phone your local Mozambique embassy to confirm.
Transport leaves early in Mozambique - 4 am is not unusual, particularly as you go further north. Roads are generally in poor condition, especially when compared to South Africa, although significant work is ongoing to improve these.
The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, though many people speak English in the capital Maputo and in tourist areas. The further north you travel, the less likely you are to encounter English speakers - in the more remote areas you are equally unlikely to encounter Portuguese speakers, so picking up a few local phrases helps. On the northern coast, towards Tanzania, Swahili may be helpful.
The currency of Mozambique is the Metical (plural: Meticais).
Carry a wallet with you close. Mugging, kidnapping, rape and murder are common sadly.
- Malarial prophylaxis is essential in all parts of Mozambique.
- Get all your vaccine shots before arriving, medical facilities rarely have clean needles or means of cleaning equipment properly.
- Do not drink the tap water.
- Do not have unprotected sex. As in other south african countries, there is a very high HIV incidence.